Indiana ranks fifth on national list of scrutinized puppy mills
13 Investigates recently went inside dog breeding operations with sub-standard conditions. Indiana ranks in the top five states in the nation for having a high number of puppy mills.
While Missouri has the most with 24, Ohio has 15, Kansas 11, and Iowa eight, Indiana and New York tie for fifth in the United States with six puppy mills under scrutiny.
Our cameras traveled east to a couple of the kennels on this year's "100 horrible" list.
On an Amish farm in Modoc in Wayne County, puppies scamper at the whistle of owner Steven Lapp. They are the only puppies Lapp would allow 13 Investigates to see.
Animal welfare inspectors say they found "sick dogs," some without proper medical care, in a kennel overrun by mice and droppings there. It was enough to land Lapp's kennel on the list of "A Hundred Horrible" puppy mills.
Mark Mendenhall lives a few miles away in Hagerstown.
"Some people call it a puppy mill. It's just a very aggressive way of making money with dogs," he told 13 Investigates.
He is not surprised that three of the six puppy mills identified in Indiana are in Wayne County. One of them is at the Pine Hill Kennel across the road.
"There is an issue over here," he said.
During a February visit, inspectors noted filthy conditions and puppies with clipped tails glued together with expired adhesive.
"Those poor dogs over there don't receive a lot of one-on-one communication with humans. They feed them and water them and they try to take care of them," he said of his neighbors.
All 100 kennels that made the list have had a history of problems. In fact, they've had unsatisfactory inspection reports from the USDA.
"This is not a list of the worst puppy mills, this is a list of problem puppy mills," added Kathleen Summers the Director of Outreach and Research at the Humane Society of the United States in Washington, D.C.
Indiana had the fifth-highest number of problem facilities with kennels listed in Rome City, Wolcottville, Williamsburg, Modoc, Millersburg and Hagerstown.
"We do think the state needs to start looking at strong laws, stronger standards of care and better laws to regulate these facilities," said Summers.
Mendehall's neighbors Elmer and Fannie Lapp at the Pine Hill Kennel question the criteria for the Humane Society's "horrible list." Fannie Lapp says her Amish beliefs don't allow her to speak on camera, but she told 13 Investigates her family is already taking their own steps to renovate the kennels in question.
The Humane Society puts out an annual list in hopes of prompting change. They ask prospective puppy owners to do their research and buy from reputable breeders or adopt from shelters and rescue kennels.